If you’ve seen the University’s new Research Data management website, you may have noticed that we now have a single email address for all enquiries relating to research data management: firstname.lastname@example.org. This does not imply that there is just one poor soul chained to a desk somewhere in Wellington Square dealing with all the emails, however.
Lots of people at Oxford have research data management knowledge and expertise. Nobody, however, is an expert in all aspects of data management. This poses a challenge when it comes to offering support to researchers. I know a fair bit about relational databases, funder requirements, and the infrastructure that the University is developing; my colleague Sally Rumsey knows more than anyone could ever really wish to know about descriptive metadata and the Oxford Research Archive; James Cummings is a world expert on text encoding; there are plenty of subject librarians and researchers with a good knowledge of data practices and conventions in particular disciplines; but none of us could really cover everything.
To overcome this, we’ve set up a ‘directory of expertise’, where anyone who thinks they know anything about research data management, and is happy to give advice to others, can enter their contact details and list their particular specialities. We’re hoping that this will enable us to ask the right people for the best advice in response to questions from researchers.
When we receive an email, the email will go into a ticketing system where is can be seen by everyone involved in research data management support, whether they work for Research Services, the IT Services, the Bodleian, or one of the academic departments. The ticket can then be claimed by someone who thinks they have the appropriate skills to respond to it, and they in turn can refer to the directory of expertise to get a second or third opinion if needs be. If it looks as though nobody is volunteering to pick up a ticket, a moderator will either ask one of the support team to deal with it, or take it themselves. We hope that this way we will be able to give each enquirer the support they need. Furthermore, (non-confidential) responses are visible to other members of the support team, so hopefully we will all be able to learn from each others expertise. Let’s hope it works!
If you have expertise in any particular aspect of research data management, and would be happy to impart your wisdom to others, let us know by writing to email@example.com, and we will invite you to add your own details to the directory of expertise.